What are the impacts of approaches to increase the accessibility to education for people with a disability across developed and developing countries and what is known about the cost effectiveness of different approaches?

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This paper is a review of the literature concerning interventions aimed at increasingly the accessibility to education. The majority of the studies reviewed are from higher-income countries (mostly North America and the UK), and a large proportion focused on intellectual disabilities and autism.

Findings suggest that:

  • the geography of policy and programming dynamics are extremely different in high, middle- or low-income countries.
  • the typology of disability needs to be determined in order to define appropriate interventions
  • there is a need to strengthen mechanisms for evaluating impact of interventions beyond the achievement of learning outcomes.
  • the majority of studies did not provide discussions that feed into policy considerations.
  • The question of approaches to increase the access to education of children with disabilities needs to be more specific

The aim of the review was to evaluate educational initiatives and delivery mechanisms of education for children with disabilities, to identify impact in terms of completion of school, participation and social change. The individual studies reviewed use different models of educational effectiveness and quality which underpin the research questions asked; the analytic and statistical methodologies employed; and the context, practice and funding of educational research in developing countries. There is a paucity of data that evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches in different contexts reflecting the need for more research in this area. To date, models are replicated and approaches implemented without a full understanding of the impact or effectiveness of these approaches for children with disabilities in the various contexts in which they receive education. This review constitutes the first step towards understanding how the success of education for children with disabilities is being assessed. However, it goes on to reiterate the need for methodologies and tools that allow for appraisal of a body of evidence that is extremely diverse, while at the same time calling on policy makers to think about improving mechanisms to strengthen local capacities to both record evidence and make it usable.

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